• Tip Jar

Please Help Protect Accessibility

Oracle has, in their infinite, "wisdom" laid off the leader of the Gnome accessibility project leader, not to mention the lead developer of Orca. This is a horrific blow to the blind community, especially those who use the Orca screen reader. This move by Oracle was unexpected because in the past they have at least pretended to care about accessibility. I must say that Sun Micro Systems was a great company, I know it will take a lot for Oracle to live up to our expectations, but for them to just abandon Orca like that is ill tidings for the future. What will happen to the accessibility of other products now owned by Oracle? Will Open Office no longer be accessible to the blind? Once the avalanche begins, where will it end? If you, dear reader, care about accessibility I urge you to please take what action you can. Leave a comment here, contact companies, let everyone know that accessibility is important and needs to be taken seriously. Even if you do not use Orca or Linux it still is important to you. Perhaps other companies are watching to see how the blind community responds to this situation. Maybe if this battle is lost it could be the beginning of losing the war. Let your voice be heard. Maybe we can reach them with out resulting to Billboards.
For More information:

Commanding the Command Line (Part 2)

This is part two of a discussion of accomplishing your hearts desire with out the use of a GUI. It’s back to the console for us as we dive in to such fun things as web browsing, instant messaging, and text editing.

Instant Messaging with Finch

Pidgin and Finch are closely connected. finch is the command line version of Pidgin. So, the way I handle setting up accounts is with Pidgin. Then, in the console launch by typing finch. The first time you run it you will be presented with the accounts list. Use highlight tracking in Speakup because it works better with Finch. Press space on each account you want activated. Move through them with the up and down arrow keys. When you activate an account it will say X to show that it is checked. When you have activated all of your accounts, press alt+a to be taken in to a menu with items like buddy list, plugins, sounds, etc. Select the sound option and tab until you find the first sound option, probably "Someone says your name in chat". Press space to check each item for which you would like to have sound. Use the up and down arrows to navigate the list. After selecting the sounds you want, press alt+a to get back to the menu. I must say that I have never successfully gotten sounds to work in Finch but I know people who have, so it’s just my problem apparently. Select Plugins and check the plugins you would like to activate. Most of the plugins that work in Pidgin also work in Finch. This is a good time to mention my favorite sets of plugins. Some of these only work with Pidgin, but I will include them anyway. Pidgin-musictracker displays your currently playing track in Pidgin. Pidgin-plugin-pack, lots and lots of useful plugins. Pidgin-mbpurple, adds Twitter and a couple of other things to Pidgin. To get them all:
sudo apt-get install pidgin-plugin-pack pidgin-musictracker pidgin-mbpurple
When you have the plugins configured the way you want them, press alt+a to get back to the menu. If you are not on your list of groups that contain your contacts, press tab until you get to it. Only buddies who are on-line will show up. To expand a group press space and to close it press space again on the group title. If you press f10 you will get another menu with things like add buddy in it. If you would like to turn off time stamps, while chatting with someone press f10 and press enter on show time stamps. To exit Finch press alt+q.

Web Browsing with Elinks

To get elinks, in Ubuntu, type:
sudo apt-get install elinks
When you first install Elinks, it takes some configuring to get it working optimally with Speakup or any other console screen reader. To launch it type:
If it is the first time you will get a welcome message. Press enter to go to the next screen. Here it will ask for a URL. Press escape to get into its menus. In Speakup, it is a good idea to turn on highlight tracking if you haven’t already. Press right arrow to get to the Setup menu, then down to Options Manager and press space to activate it

Numbered Links

Move down to Document and press space to activate it then down to browsing and press space again. Go down to links and press space. Move down through the menu until you find Numbered Links and press tab until you get to Edit then press enter. For some reason these selections do not read exactly right. when I was on the Edit option, for example, it said "Info Edit". Press backspace to remove the 0 and type the number 1 in its place and press enter. Now links on pages will be numbered. To activate a numbered link type its number and press enter then enter again to activate it.

Turn Off Frames

Press down arrow until you get to Html Rendering and press space. Go down to Show Frames and tab to the Edit option and press enter. Change the 1 to 0 and press enter.

Remember to Save

When you have finished setting options, be sure to save. Tab until you get to the save option and press enter. In this case, Speakup read it as "Search Save". You will know you did it right if you get a message about the configuration being written successfully.

Tips and Tricks

You can launch elinks with an address so when it opens you will go directly to a web page instead of having to type in the address. for example:
elinks http://www.stormdragon.tk/
elinks stormdragon.tk
To enter a new URL press g. If you would like to be able to copy the current URL, press shift G. You can use screen’s excellent copy feature to get the current address.

Email with Alpine

To get Alpine, in Ubuntu, type:
sudo apt-get install alpine
To launch Alpine type:
the first time it runs it will create a mail folder and show you a welcome message. Press enter to get to the main menu, then s for setup and c for configure. If you want to use Alpine with your gmail account, there is an excellent guide that shows you how. If you get imap errors when trying to retrieve your email, open the .pinerc file and search for the line that reads:
Remove any extra characters after the right brace } and save the file. It should now work correctly. Alpine works very well with Speakup and the menus are clear and not difficult to follow.

Commanding the Command Line (Part 1)

In the event that you decide to, or for some reason have to go completely command line for a while, you will likely be wondering how to do certain things. There are some things that have to be done on any computer to make the computer in question worth it’s plastic. So, here is part one of a discussion on doing these important tasks from the command line. Some of this may be covered elsewhere here but I am including it again for the sake of completeness. To get to the console from gnome, press control+alt+f1 through f6. You have six consoles to choose from, but when you wanna go back to gnome, it is control+alt+f7. If you want to use the console you will need a screen reader for it like Speakup. For information on installing Speakup in Ubuntu read "Speakup Revisited".
If you are completely new to the command line, you can use these two tutorials to get started with it quickly:
Into the Linux Command Line Interface (CLI) and Introduction to Command Line Interface (CLI) 2.

Multiple Terminals With Screen

I am pretty sure that Ubuntu comes with screen installed. I don’t ever remember installing it, but it could have sneaked in as a dependency for something else though I doubt it. If you don’t have screen, you need it. To launch it, type screen. You will have to press enter after it starts to get your prompt back. Screen makes it so you can have several terminals all at once. To create a new one, press control+a followed by c. You can have as many as you want, one for music, one for email, one for instant messaging, etc. To switch between terminals, press control+a followed by n for the next one or p for the previous one. To close a terminal that you no longer need, type exit. Another great feature that screen has is the ability to copy and paste. When you need to copy something, press control+a followed by either the escape key or [. Use the arrow keys to position the cursor on the first of the text you would like to copy and press space. Find the last part you want to copy and position the cursor on it with the arrow keys and press space again. Now, when you need to past the copied information press control+a followed by the ] key.
The use of a ~/.screenrc file can help Orca users to copy from the terminal. Installing xclip is helpful for this. To get it:
sudo apt-get install xclip
Here is the .screenrc file that I use:
#Begin .screenrc
startup_message off
defscrollback 1024
bind b eval "writebuf" 'exec !!! xclip -selection "clipboard" -i /tmp/screen-exchange'
termcapinfo xterm|xterms|xs|rxvt ti@:te@
#end .screenrc
If you want to download this file, enter the following command in terminal:
wget -O ~/.screenrc http://stormdragon.tk/scripts/screenrc
Using this .screenrc file you can press control+a b after following the above instructions to copy text to place the copied text into the clipboard. If you are using screen in the console where the X clipboard is not available, you can still easily get the copied information from the file:
To move up and down through the terminal’s buffer press shift+pageup and shift+pagedown. This is slightly different from gnome-terminal with out screen in which you press control+shift+pageup and control+shift+pagedown to move through the buffer.

Twitter From The Command Line

The program twidge is an excellent command line Twitter client. A lot of distros include it in the repositories. In Ubuntu, for example, you can get it by typing in terminal:
sudo apt-get install twidge
If your distro doesn’t include it you can download it from http://software.complete.org/software/projects/show/twidge.
After installing Twidge, you need to configure it. To do this, type:
twidge setup
There are only two questions and they should be very easy to answer. After twidge is configured, you can get the latest tweets very easily. First though, you should run:
twidge lsrecent -su
This gets the last 20 tweets and also sets a place marker so you won’t see them or anything before them if you do not wish to do so. After running this command, you can then get all new tweets by typing:
twidge lsrecent -asu
To post an update type twidge update and press enter. Type your update and press enter again, just remember not to go over the 140 character limit. For more detailed instructions on Twidge and its uses, type:
man twidge
You may also be interested in TTYtter.

Weather Information

I wrote an article on weather a while ago. There is a great program called weather-util for the console. To find out how to install and configure it, please read "…And Weather For All".

Command Line Music Player

I have tried several terminal based music players. None of them worked well with Speakup. I was about to lose hope in ever finding a good one to use with a screen reader when I heard of cmus. In Ubuntu, get it by typing:
sudo apt-get install cmus
Launch it with the command:
and close by typing:
After the first time you start and close the music player open the ~/.cmus/autosave file. Find the line that reads:
set softvol=false
Change it to true and save the file. softvol allows you to change the music players volume without changing volume for the whole computer. There are a lot of other settings that can be changed in this file including repeat and shuffle. To add music to the library use :add and the directory where the music is stored. You can use :a as a short cut if you prefer. To add all of the songs in ~/Music and its sub directories, for example, you would type:
:a ~/Music
Use – to decrease the volume and = to turn it up. Previous track is z, play is x, pause is c, stop is v, and next track is b. Use the up and down arrows to move through the tracks in your library and enter to play the currently selected song.. For more info on cmus, type man cmus.

Sox, the Swiss Army Knife of Sound Processing Utilities

Sox is one of my favorite command line programs. It can play audio, record, convert from one file type to another, and add effects to audio. Unfortunately it is not packaged with all of its powerful abilities enabled by default. The best way to deal with this little problem is to download and install it yourself. The only thing it is lacking is the ability to write mp3 files. It can play them, but by default, in Ubuntu and I assume other distros, it can not write mp3 files. So, if you do not care about this functionality, just do the normal sudo apt-get install sox. If you want to be able to convert to mp3, you will need to download it from http://sourceforge.net/projects/sox/ and install it. Before installing though, you will need to get some other libraries. In Ubuntu type:
sudo apt-get install libmp3lame0 libmp3lame-dev libsox-fmt-all
sudo apt-get build-dep sox
Next extract the sox files with the following command. The version may have changed after this writing, so be sure to use the current numbers in the file name:
tar xzvf sox-14.3.0.tar.gz
Change to the newly created directory with:
cd sox-14.3.0/
./configure --with-lame
sudo make install
For more information on the options that can be used when compiling sox read the included INSTALL file.
Sox can do so many different things that it would take a long time to write them all down here. Here are a few things to get you started though:
sox filename.wav filename.ogg
Convert filename from a wav to an ogg file. Don’t worry, it doesn’t delete the wav file. You can convert from any type to any other type of audio.
play filename.ogg
Plays a file it can have effects added and the volume can be adjusted as well.
rec filename.ogg
Creates a file and starts recording to it. for all of the incredible things sox can do, type man sox.

Let the Computer Read for You

Text to speech isn’t just for screen readers any more. I find myself writing small speaking applications for my friends and family to use on their computers more and more often. So, I put 2 an 2 together and got 22 and also the idea to share these applications with everyone. The first part is to decide how you would like to trigger the speech. Some of the people I wrote these programs for preferred to access them by right clicking their mouse and selecting the app from a scripts menu. This setup is quite easy, just save the script in the
directory. If you would like them in a menu by themselves, just create a sub folder for them.
mkdir text-to-speech
Other people like to create a keyboard shortcut to launch the script. If you are using Ubuntu Karmic, and I would assume any distro with the latest Gnome, just click on the system menu, preferences, keyboard shortcuts. Click on add, and enter the name of the script in the name field and type the command to launch it in the command field. Usually the command is nearly the same as the name just with a .sh or .py extension. I usually save the scripts in ~/bin so they will be in the execution path. Click apply and the new action is created. You will notice when you scroll down to the bottom of the list that your new action is listed but it says "Disabled". Click on the "Disabled" and press the key combination you would like to use.
Now, for a working example, let’s get the computer to tell us if we have any new tweets waiting. For this script you will need to have twidge and speech-dispatcher installed. First, let’s test for speech-dispatcher. In terminal type:
spd-say "Hello World"
If you hear the words you just told it to say, Hello World, then you are good to go. If you got something that ends with "command not found" then you need to install speech-dispatcher. In ubuntu type:
sudo apt-get install speech-dispatcher python-speechd
When that has finished you will have speech-dispatcher installed. Now it is time to configure it. So, earlier, if you got no speech with the spd-say command but you did get some message about the connection being refused, try the following:
If you see that speech-dispatcher has started then try the spd-say command above. Still no speech, or have just finished installing speech-dispatcher? Type:
Here it is usually OK to just press enter for each question. There are a couple of exceptions though. When it asks for the port it may offer 6561 this needs to be changed to 6560. When it asks for sound driver, unless you have uninstalled pulseaudio, you need to type in pulse and press enter. To get US English, when it asks for the two letter language code enter en-us and press enter. If it doesn’t offer to start speech-dispatcher at startup, add speech-dispatcher to startup programs under system, preferences, startup programs. Click add and enter speech-dispatcher in both fields.
Whew! now that’s done with let’s move on to Twidge. Lots of distros have it packaged. In ubuntu in terminal type:
sudo apt-get install twidge
Then, to configure it, type:
twidge setup
Then, just so Twitter doesn’t get flooded with requests the first time you request all tweets, type:
twidge lsrecent -s
Of course to use Twidge, you will need a Twitter account. Also, this is an excellent opportunity to do a little advertising and shamelessly invite you to follow me on Twitter.
OK, now we have your computer talking and Twidge installed and a shiny new Twitter account, it is at long last time for the script. Open your favorite text editor and paste the following in to it down to and including the line that says end script.
while [ $x -lt 1 ]; do
newTweets=`twidge lsrecent -u`
if [ ! -z "$newTweets" ] ; then
spd-say -w "You have new tweets waiting."
sleep 300
#end script
Save the file. I called it newtweets.sh. This script runs in the background with out interaction, so save it in ~/bin. You may need to create the bin directory. You will need to give it permission to run. In terminal:
chmod 700 ~/bin/newtweets.sh
To get it to run automatically at start up, add it to start up programs. Remember the command includes the .sh extension:
Well, I got all of this written before remembering that that script runs in the background and I was supposed to be discussing scripts that launch with a key press or from the context menu. So, let’s add the second part to our Twitter reading scripts. If you want this to be a keyboard shortcut, save the following in ~/bin. If you would rather right click your mouse and start the script from the context menu, save it in the ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/ directory.
In your favorite text editor paste the following down to and including end script:
x=`twidge lsrecent -asu`;for i in $x;do y+=” $i “;done;spd-say -w “$y”
#end script
Save the file as readtweets.sh. Open terminal and change the file’s permissions with one of the following commands depending on where you saved it:
chmod 700 ~/bin/readtweets.sh
chmod 700 ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/readtweets.sh
If you saved it in the nautilus-scripts directory, it is complete. You may need to logout and back in before it shows up in the context menu. If you saved it in the bin directory there is still a little bit left to do. Click on System, Preferences, Keyboard shortcuts. Click add. In the name field enter readtweets. in the command field enter newtweets.sh and click Apply. Scroll down to custom shortcuts. Beside the readtweets shortcut click on the word Disabled. Press the key combination you would like to use to have new tweets read to you. For example:
That’s it! Now when your computer says you have new tweets waiting, just press control+shift+t to have them read to you. Or, right click and select readtweets.sh from the scripts menu. I hope you have found this useful. Have fun and enjoy.

Speakup Revisited

Linux distros using kernel 2.6.35 and higher have speakup already built in, so there is no need to install it. You still will need to configure a synthesizer for it and other information in this article may be useful too.
In Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic and later, the way speakup is installed has changed. You can still build it from source if you want, but now it is included in the repository. Here are the instructions for installing it. In terminal type:
sudo apt-get install speakup-source espeakup
After the packages have finished installing type the following:
sudo m-a a-i speakup-source
You may also want to install the speakup-tools package. To get it type:
sudo apt-get install speakup-tools
The method used to get speakup to start automatically has not changed. Just type:
sudo gedit /etc/modules
Move down to the end of the file and on a blank line add the following:
speakup_soft start=1
From then on, when you start your computer speakup will be running. The espeakup program also starts so you will have speech. You may want to change the voice to your language. To do so, in terminal type:
sudo gedit /etc/default/espeakup
Add your chosen voice to the end of the line that reads VOICE= like so:
Now, it will speak your language.
Finally, the way you adjust speakup’s settings has changed slightly. From speaking with users of other distributions than Ubuntu, I have learned this is the way most if not all the rest of them were doing it. Here is an example of turning off key echo:
sudo echo 0 > /sys/accessibility/speakup/key_echo
To turn it back on change the 0 to a 1. For a list of things that can be changed type:
ls /sys/accessibility/speakup/
You can add the command to /etc/init.d/rc.local to have it automatically happen at start-up. To save all of your speakup settings, if you have the speakup-tools package installed, type:
speakupconf save
when you have everything set the way you want it. To get it to load at startup add the line:
speakupconf load
to the end of your ~/.bashrc file.
As said in the beginning of this article, this applies to Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic and possibly new versions of Ubuntu. If you are using an older version the following link will be more helpful:

Use Your Gamepad With Any Game With QJoypad

So now that you have all these games installed and working in Wine you may be wishing for a way to use your game controller in those games that take input from the keyboard only. The program QJoypad can help in this matter. It is not included in the Ubuntu repository but you can grab the source code from http://qjoypad.sourceforge.net/. QJoypad requires QT4 and libxtst-dev which are both in the repository. You can install them from terminal by typing:
sudo apt-get install qdevelop libxtst-dev
There may be a smaller package that will install all of the required packages but qdevelop is the one I used. Follow the installation instructions included in the QJoypad source code in install.txt.
Now that everything has completed successfully it is time to configure your controller. QJoypad has a nifty configuration that makes assigning keyboard buttons to your game controller a snap. Orca, however, does not read QT4 applications. All is not lost though because you can create QJoypad layout files in your favourite text editor. QJoypad uses X key codes for the keyboard. You can get these codes by running xev in the terminal. Switch to the xev window with alt+tab, press the key for which you would like the code, then alt+tab back to terminal and use flat review to find the line that contains the key code. The line with the correct key code will be the second key code line up from the bottom. The first one up always contains the key code for alt because of the alt+tab combo used to change windows. Here is an example layout file with several commonly used keyboard buttons. In a real layout file you can not include the comment lines. Only the very first line in the file should begin with the # symbol.
# QJoyPad 4.0 Layout File
Joystick 1 {
Axis 1: +key 114, -key 113
Axis 2: +key 116, -key 111
Axis 3: +key 102, -key 100
Axis 4: +key 104, -key 98
Axis 5: +key 102, -key 100
Axis 6: +key 104, -key 98
#Left Shift
Button 1: key 50
Button 2: key 65
#Left Control Rapid Fire
Button 3: rapidfire, key 37
#left Alt
Button 4: key 64
Button 5: key 38
Button 6: key 33
Button 7: key 10
Button 8: key 11
Button 9: key 23
Button 10: key 36
#end Layout File
Place your layout files in the ~.qjoypad3/ directory. Give it a .lyt extension and you are ready to go. To load your layout file, press alt+f2 and when the run dialog opens type qjoypad FileName. For example, if your layout file were named firefox.lyt you would type:
qjoypad firefox
The QJoypad instructions say you can switch layouts on the fly, but this has always given me an error. So, before loading a new layout file open terminal and type killall qjoypad. QJoypad Is a great program that adds just a little more coolness factor to the Linux gaming experience.

More Audio Games in Wine

There are some audio games that will not work in Wine with out a little modification. This modification may require some assistance because Orca is unable to read Wine related information. Still, it may be possible to press a key combo in the correct order and get the desired result. The first thing to do is to install the winetricks package. Using winetricks can help to get some great things installed. It does, according to the winetricks documentation, have a few adverse side effects. Basically you will not be able to get support from winehq if something doesn’t work. In recent versions of Ubuntu winetricks is included with Wine. So, try typing:
in terminal. If it doesn’t work you will need to install it manually. To install winetricks open terminal and type:
wget http://www.kegel.com/wine/winetricks
It should finish downloading very quickly. When the download is complete make sure the winetricks script has permission to run. To do this type:
chmod 700 winetricks
You can then run the script by typing ./winetricks and when the script opens there will be a long list of packages. You need the vb6run (Visual Basic 6 runtime) and all directX packages except the “not recommended” packages. You can install them all at the same time. A window will come up that is not accessible to Orca. Make sure this window has focus and press alt+y to install the Visual Basic6 runtime. Now you can install a broad variety of games.
Here is a partial list as well as a few notes on some of the games.
If you notice lag in the sound, try installing alsa-oss with:
sudo apt-get install alsa-oss
and launch the game from the terminal with aoss at the beginning of the line:
aoss wine .wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Game/launcher.exe

Kitchensinc Games

The games are all free and very good. They are located at http://kitchensinc.jgriffith.com/ttsgames/ttsgames.htm. You need to download and install winkit first. It is a menu system for the games. When it is finished downloading right click it and select "extract here". When it has finished extracting find and press enter on the winkit folder, then right click the setup.exe file and select open with wine. Press enter four times. wait a few seconds and press enter again. If everything went as it should the installer should close and there will now be a "kitchensinc menu" under applications, wine, programs. If you select the games option the self-voicing menu will launch.
To install the games just download the one you want and when it is finished right click and open with wine. Wait a few seconds to make sure it has opened and press enter, alt+o, and alt+c. At this point the window will close and the game will be installed. To play the game select it from the kitchensinc game menu.
In puppy1, when I changed the voice from the default, the game became unplayable. The golf game tends to crash. To make this not happen, wait until it has finished speaking completely before selecting your club or swinging. Those are the only two I had any problems with and the work arounds are quite simple.

LightTechInteractive Games

The games can be gotten from http://www.lighttechinteractive.com/web page/lightGames.php. The general install format is right click the game after downloading it, select open with wine, and after waiting a few seconds for it to open, press alt+n twice followed by alt+y then alt+n three or four more times for good measure. Finish with an alt+i for install and wait a few seconds while it works its magic. Press enter to close the installer. The games will be under applications, wine, Program, LightTechInteractive. I have installed "Bop It Ultimate", "Light Cars", and "NUM-Crunch". They all work well. In Light Cars, when you have completed a race and have tried to start another race the game may go silent. If this happens, press enter and the game will close. Open the game again and everything will work. These games are a lot of fun as evidenced by their download counter for each one. You will have to run the configuration option before playing the game. Each game has the option in its menu. The configuration utility is not self-voicing, but it is still possible to get through it. When it opens press enter, type your first name, press tab, type your last name, press enter and enter your email if you want(it is not required), press tab and down arrow once for Canada or twice for United States, and finish by pressing tab and enter twice. The window will close an the game will be configured.

L-works Work Around

Other games may work too. The free games from l-works.net work very well. The only thing is, you have to change to the folder where the game is and launch it. This may only be necessary if you have removed PulseAudio in Ubuntu. To change to the l-works directory open terminal and type:
cd .wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/lworks
Then use the ls command to get a list of the games installed. Change to the directory with the cd command then launch the game with wine.
wine toy.exe
The games will not work if launched from the wine menu under applications.

Installation Instructions

There are too many games to write the instructions for each in this post. I have already put off publishing it for some time to test and figure out installation issues. That is where you can help. If you install a game and it works, please post a comment with instructions here. Most of the time games can be installed by pressing alt+n several times then alt+i and finally alt+f. Sometimes you have to agree to terms. In this situation, the key series may be alt+n followed by alt+a, press space to check the agree box, then alt+n five or six times and finish up with alt+i ad either alt+f or enter to close the installer. Sometimes the installer may start by asking if you want to install the program. If the installer closes right off when you press alt+n then this is likely the cause so try starting out with alt+y. These instructions should get you through most installers. Good luck and have fun.

…And Weather For All

Although weather information is available in Orca with the press of a button, there are times when you may want more detailed information such as a forecast. It may also be useful to get weather info for more than one location. This is possible with the clock on the top panel, just right click it, click preferences, and set your location by clicking add on the locations tab. It can also be achieved buy right clicking a blank spot on either panl, click "Add to Panel" and click "Weather Report", click add, then click close. Once it has been placed on the panel, set your location by right clicking it, click preferences, and select your location from the list. If you want, you can also get a raydar map. To do this, check the raydar map box and the custom image box. You will need to enter a url in the box. You can get this url by going to:
Enter your zipcode click go. Then click the raydar link and click standard version. Click once on the map so it starts showing real time. Finally, right click the map and select "Copy Image Location". Go back to the weather preferences and paste the url in to the box buy pressing Control+V.
To get detailed weather information simply click the weather icon on the panel or right click it and click on details. If you click the raydar tab you should see the map updating in real time.
This also works well with Orca. The details are read and can be navigated using the tab and arrow keys. The only problem is, Orca and the panels do not always play nicely together. As a solution, you can use a terminal based weather program. In Ubuntu, you can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install weather-util
After the program is installed, you can set up aliases for it in a file named .weatherrc. First, however, you will need to get the location id for each area for which you would like weather information. To do this, go to:
If you are in the US select your state, otherwise select your country and click go. On the next page, select your location, the place closest to where you live and click go. The page you are on now will have a heading with your Location id below it. Here is an example:
Baku / Bine Airport, Azerbaijan
(UBBB) 40-27N 050-04E -1M
In this example, the id is (UBBB). Now that you have the location ID, you can make your .weatherc file. Type:
gedit .weatherrc
you can of course use any text editor you prefer. Here is an example .weatherrc file. You can cut and paste it just be sure to change the values to match your information. It will probably not work with the values I have in it because they are all different places. If you get a 404 error, set the forecast line to False or just delete the line altogether. If you do not live in the US, you will probably want to delete the st line. Here is the sample file:
id = UBBB
quiet = True
city = New York
st = CA
forecast = True

Now, when you type weather you will get the current weather and forecast. To add more locations, just copy the info in the .weatherrc file and paste them at the end. Change the line that reads [default] to something like [work] and update the rest of the information. Now, when you type:
weather work
You will get the weather and forecast for the new location. This utility works great with Orca or any terminal based screen reader. For more information on the .weatherrc file, type:
man weatherrc

GMA Games in Wine

Audio games available from GMA Games work very well in Wine. The one exception is "Shades of Doom" it works until you try to enter a door, then freezes. The only way to close it is to go to system monitor and end the process. The rest of the games have not given me any problems. The basic pattern to follow when installing these games is to right click the setup file, select Open with Wine Windows Program Loader, and wait for a few seconds for it to open. Use alt tab to move between windows until you find something like "Setup inaccessible". When you have moved to that window, press the following keys to install the game:
At this point, the game will install. Wait about ten or so seconds and then press alt-f to finish the installation. Most of the games add a shortcut to the desktop. You can use the shortcut to launch the game or open applications, Wine, Programs, and find the game listed there. On the desktop you may find a second shortcut with a .lnk extension. It is safe to delete the .lnk shortcut because they do not work in Linux (as far as I know). When you start the demos, there are a couple of windows that do not talk, just press enter three times and game sound and speech should begin. The first few windows are where you can enter your information when you have purchased the game. In the game Lonewolf, the information is spoken from the very beginning. I have tested all of the game demos as well as the free games and I have to say they are all impressive and very addictive. I highly recommend any or all of these games.
One last note, in VIP Mud, when you first launch it, the opening window will read as "Product Security inaccessible" I am not sure what this window is, but if you press enter three times it will start talking. For some reason, voice settings are not always remembered and the "interrupt this voice with typing" option doesn’t work. I have not used it in Windows, so I am not sure if this is a Wine only problem or not. You can interrupt speech with the control key if you need to do so.

Setting up Wine for Accessible Games

There are lots of accessible games that, until now, only work in Windows. Quite a lot of these games will work in Wine, an application that translates Windows applications so they can work in Linux. There are a few things that are necessary to get it up and running though. A lot of the Windows game use Sapi5 to present information in speech format. Thanks to the Open-Sapi project started by Thomas Lloyd, it is now easy to get sapi up and running in Wine with no sighted assistance. For more on the Open-Sapi project, visit http://code.google.com/p/open-sapi/. Now, Let’s get started setting up Wine so accessible games can be installed.

Installing Wine

Although some games work with the version of Wine that comes installed, things will work better, and more games will install and run correctly if you have the latest version of Wine. To do this, you will need to add the Wine repository. If you are not using a Debian based distribution of Linux, consult your distribution’s documentation or the Wine website for instructions. Ubuntu users type the following to add the Wine repository:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
Next, get updates and install Wine:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine1.3
You should now have the latest version of Wine installed.

Installing Open-Sapi

For this part, you will need to have subversion installed. If you do not have it, or if you are unsure, type the following command in terminal:
sudo apt-get install subversion
To create the open-sapi directory and download the files, in terminal, type:
svn checkout http://open-sapi.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/open-sapi
At this point, files will be downloaded and setup in the open-sapi directory. If you are not using Ubuntu or a Debian based distribution, you can install manually with the instructions from the Open-Sapi Wiki.
For Ubuntu or Debian users, type:
cd open-sapi/installer
chmod 700 osapi.run
When it finishes, you will have open-sapi installed. Now games that use sapi will work, for the most part. You can also use Open-sapi with Orca through speech-dispatcher. For more information, refer to the Open-sapi project. I have only used it for Wine applications. When I installed it I did not allow it to overwrite my existing speech-dispatcher configuration.

Installing Klango

In order for Klango to have speech when it first loads you will need to have the open-sapi package installed. Download the Klango 3 package, right click it by selecting it and pressing shift+f10, and select extract here. You can place the folder anywhere you want. To launch the application, find the klango.exe application in the Klango 3 directory and select "open with Wine". If you are using Vinux you may have problems with laggy sound. If this is the case, open terminal and type:
sudo apt-get install alsa-oss
After alsa-oss has installed type:
Down near the bottom of the list of check boxes is one that says set sound to oss check this box and tab to OK and press enter. If you try to open it with Wine now there will be no sound. The way to get it back is to select "open with other application", tab to the "use custom command", press enter, in the box type:
aoss wine
and press enter.
All users will need to install all of the DirectX options excluding the DirectX package itself which is marked as "not recommended". The ridge20 and ridge32 packages may also be necessary. You can install them easily with the winetricks package.

Installing A Game

For this example, you will need the Solitaire game from Gmagames. Click the games link, and find the "free games" link. Download the solitaire game. It will save to your desktop. When it has finished, select it and press shift-f10 and select open with wine windows program loader. Wait a few seconds then press alt-tab until you here "setup inaccessible". Orca, of course, does not work with Wine, so the installer is completely inaccessible. You have to know what key combination to press. In this case, press the following with a few seconds between each keypress to make sure the action has completed:
Wait about 10 seconds, then finish with alt-f.
When you arrow around on the Desktop, you should find 2 shortcuts. one will be "GMA Solitaire.lnk" you can delete this shortcut. The other one is the one you will need. Press enter on it. You will get a warning about untrusted application. Tab to the mark as trusted button and press enter. Now, the next time you press enter on the desktop shortcut the game will launch and will be self-voicing.

Getting Help

To access the help file, open applications, wine, program files, GMA Solitaire, read manual in text format. This will open the manual in Notepad. Orca will not read in notepad, but this isn’t really a problem. Just press control+a to select all, control+c to copy, then open text editor and paste with control+v. Now you can read the file with Orca.
Have fun, and keep checking back for more game installation instructions and reviews.

  • Tip Jar